Survey of Arts Management

Course blog for American University PERF-570, Fall 2014

What kind of creative are you?

Changing gears a bit from events and innovation in the art world to an inward look at what attracts us to it: creativity.

The article “Creativity Creep” in The New Yorker examines how creativity is perceived  through history and its meaning today. Romanticism brought about the nobler organic notion of creativity.  While this is all well and good, the further time progresses, creativity needs to be tangible and it thus is measured by production of ideas. The author notes that “From this point of view, creativity is really just a fancy kind of productivity.” We see creativity as “creation” – the newest, the better, the unique – in our work-driven society.

I like that this article reminds us to stop and smell the roses as we keep trying to churn out “creative ways” to make a profit, keep an organization afloat, and set ourselves apart from competitors. As arts managers, we are lucky to work in close quarters with a “product” that brings creativity back to its Romantic roots. Step off the hamster wheel and revel in the magic of a darkened theater or solitary bench in a gallery.



4 comments on “What kind of creative are you?

  1. alexgilbertschrag
    September 12, 2014

    This was a fascinating article! I haven’t thought about the evolution of the way we perceive creativity in this way before, and this brought up an interesting point. The writer’s comment at the very beginning, about having all these books on how to be creative, they were just sitting on his desk, waiting to be read. It seems that education, at least here in this country, leans more towards learning from books, than learning from experience. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But as mentioned above, you do forget to “stop and smell the roses.”

    Teaching how to be creative is like attempting to teach someone social norms from a textbook. So often we turn to books for “self-help,” tips on diets, or for reading about how to organize your life better. Sometimes, it seems that if we experienced and attempted these facets instead of learning them from just reading, we might be able to expand on our talents. As in learning math, you can’t just read it and know how to do it. You actually must practice the problems to fully understand how it works.

    Another aspect which I thought was interesting is that creativity, especially in the workplace, seems to have become an important factor when looking for a new employee. Employers and businesses value those who have creativity because they believe it will help to expand their business, and often their profit. In arts administration, especially working for non-profits, I feel that we try to provide an outlet for those artists whose creativity needs to escape and be let out into the world. We believe in their work and want it to be seen by all. But, this doesn’t necessarily mean we have to be the creative ones. I’ve often found myself to be the most creative when I’m in a team, brainstorming.

    I agree, in that focusing on how to be creative shouldn’t be an all consuming task, but that we should appreciate the creativity that is already there.

  2. laurenelizabethdickel
    September 12, 2014

    This is a wonderful article. I fully agree a that we can not force people into creativity. The more we do that, the more people tend to feel negatively towards creative things like the arts. This made me think about when I worked for a very large corporation where there were constantly team meetings/ workshops on “how to be more creative”. While its important to encourage free thinking, it certainly can not be forced.
    Thanks for posting!

  3. jessicamallow
    September 12, 2014

    Alex’s comment above is very insightful! I actually had a very similar viewpoint. It’s interesting to think how our thoughts on creativity have changed in today’s culture when we think that artists and poets and musicians were still creating, in “our” sense of the word, previous to when that was our definition of the word. How were those artists viewed at that time? Was their work viewed as productive for their output, or simply as work, not as creative output? It surely must have been valued for it’s quality, whether or not it was defined as innately creative.

    Also interesting is the concept that creativity can change. Will the evolving definition of “productivity” eventually lead to a more productive output as technologies change and as our society revolutionizes the expect ions of artists and creative jobs?

    I enjoyed the New Yorkers perspective on this topic, when it’s something that seems to be so rarely touched in other literature, and directly affect those we’ll be working with and managing in this field.

  4. cayleycarroll
    September 16, 2014

    “If you’re really creative, really imaginative, you don’t have to make things. You just have to live, observe, think, and feel.”

    The author is dead-on when he claims our society is consumer and product based and we don’t need to feed our creativity into that. We have every right to keep our creativity for ourselves and enjoy it for what it is. After all, creativity is inherent to our lives (especially as arts managers) and one of the last thing it needs is validation from the outside world to give it value!

    What a wonderful article. Thanks for posting!

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